Saturday, July 16, 2011


When we bought our house, we didn't realize there as a significant low spot in the middle of our front sidewalk. We figured out this spring that every time it rained, we were leaping over puddles or tromping through the mud.

So it looked sort of like this.

I asked my Father in law if there was something we could do to increase drainage there and his suggestion was to build a deck. So we did.

He stopped by last night with his tractor and ripped out the bushes at the front of the house. He also broke up part of the sidewalk that would run under the deck so that we can widen or driveway, once we have saved up the money to get that done. For right now, we will put some stepping stones in there, to keep it from being all muddy.

Last night, while I took the kids to see Camp Rock, The Musical, they bought the wood

And started building the frame.

They worked until about 10:30 last night simply because it was so much cooler. FIL showed back about 6:30 this morning and the finished out the frame. My Phantom friend came over and brought another drill (and donuts, those are the kind of workers to have!) and as fast as FIL could get the boards off the trailer and fitted, Phantom, RF and I were screwing the decking down. About 1:30, we simultaneously got hungry, ran out of screws and my drill died. While FIL got more screws, I plugged in my drill to charge and we pick up pizza for lunch. After lunch, we finished off the decking, with my drill dying again, 3 screws from the end.

It really looks nice and MIL is bringing us a wrought iron bistro set to put out there until we can get around to making some chairs and a table to sit out front. We need some dirt to fill in where the sidewalk was and around the base of the boards and we need to mount my solar lights to the deck (so we don't have to pull them up every time we mow) and we'll be all done. From start of the decking to finish, including lunch, it took us two and a half hours, with 4 people working pretty much non-stop.

Our house looks pretty different, with that on the front now!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cars 2 Review

My mom is off work this week to get their move done but it has gone so well that she had some spare time today, so we took the kids to see Cars 2. I recently read a review (where incidentally, I commented that I probably wouldn't see this movie in the theater) that said that this move was terrible. I will admit that I didn't care for the first movie but I wanted to like this movie. I've had bad luck with movies recently and I would hoping this would break that streak.

I'm glad we went because this was a pretty good movie. MF was excited to see it but WF didn't want to go, insisting that Cars 2 was only for 5 year olds. I showed him a few trailers and he decided that maybe it looked it ok. We got our popcorn and got situated in time to watch a few previews (on a side note, there were only 3 or 4 previews instead of nearly 30 minutes of them so that was happy). The Toy Story short at the beginning of the movie was good stuff. Ken and Barbie miss their Hawaiian vacation so the toys put one on for them.

Cars 2 starts with Lightening off racing and Mater doing his thing in Radiator Springs. Lightening comes back for the summer, but ends up going to the Worldwide Grand Prix with his Radiator Springs pit crew. Once they get to Japan, Lightening is annoyed and embarrassed by Mater's behavior and tells him to stop acting like himself. Mater manages to fall into the middle of an international spy mission and meets a pretty girl in the process. Through several gun battles, a few high speed chases and a few dangerous situations, Mater learns that being himself is just fine. Lightening learns that you take your friends as they come and you shouldn't try to change them and they both come home with a great story to tell.

I'm not a particular fan of spy movies or of car movies but this was bright, fun race around the world. I particularly liked the Tokyo scenes, with the neon and the bright colors. The Italian countryside shots were very pretty as well. I think I would be more inclined to watch actual racing if they were racing in scenes like in this movie. I've heard several people say that the spy plot was convolution and difficult to follow. Personally, I didn't find that to be the case and both kids were able to follow it pretty well. I was also glad to see that Lightening wasn't really the focus of the movie. Lightening has moments of being a decent person but overall he is kind of a jerk and remains as such in this movie. Mater was always a better person and it was fun to see him with his fancy spy gadgets.

I do agree with other reviewers who said that this was a violent movie. There were several large gun battles, explosions, on screen torture, implied character death (they called them on screen deaths but I felt most of them were implied as exposed to explicit, except for the scene were the bad guy said "kill him" and then there was an explosion), etc.

MF proclaimed it the best movie ever and said she wanted to get rid of her Barbie to make room for more Cars 2 stuff. WF said he thought it was pretty good and he really liked the explosions and the spy story line. I thought some of the stuff was over the heads of young children but it was great for my kids (9 and 6) and had enough humor for the adults to enjoy it to. Like all Pixar movies, it was filled with inside jokes and referrals to other movies.

I enjoyed this movie and so did the kids and my mom. This isn't a really movie for the preschool set, especially sheltered preschoolers. This movie was written for first generation Cars fans, who have grown up a little. Bottom line, if a kid wasn't old enough to see the original on the big screen, this movie might not be for them. For older kids and adults, I would rate it as 4 stars out of 5

Sunday, July 3, 2011

You CAN fit a patio table in a 5 gallon bucket

Last summer when we were moving, we needed a new patio table. We found one for ridiculously cheap at Menards and it went well with our chairs. I wasn't super keen on it having a glass top, but the price was right so we got it.

I went in the backyard Friday evening and found this:

(notice the wood table under it? That is my other end table that I killed the drill battery on the day before)

After yelling WTF, I set about cleaning all the glass up, which fit neatly in a 5 gallon bucket. After that fun was over, we had to find a new table ASAP, since we are hosting our annual 4th of July cookout tomorrow. We went to Menards again hoping to find another cheap one to replace it with, but I told RF no matter how cheap, I absolutely didn't want another glass top. Unfortunately, none of their clearance stuff was anywhere close to the right price (especially when they had a table alone for over $300) so we decided it couldn't be all that hard to build one ourselves. It's not rocket science, right?! We priced out the lumber and figured out, total investment would be less than $50.

We bought the lumber and zipped home to get started on it, since it was already 8pm. First, though, we had to swing through Savoy where Loosey had a drill we could borrow, since our battery was dead and our charger was missing (we found it yesterday but having the second drill was pretty handy anyway).

Here is the top frame:

We worked for about an hour and ended up with a framed table that just needed the top put on it and about a thousand mosquito bites!

Saturday morning, we got moving before it got too hot and we lost our shade (our backyard as no trees but the neighbors does a good job of shading our patio in the morning.) and got the top slats put in place.

RF mowed the yard, I cleaned off the patio and we put up the fun new umbrella my Phantom friend got for me at Sam's and our yard it ready to party tomorrow!

We also have enough left over lumber to build at least one matching bench, although we aren't doing that right now. With one more 2x4, we'll have 2 benches, to either use for seating or use as extra tables in the yard.